Posts Tagged 'nigel farage'



Loudribs Curmudgeonry Corner Post Question Time Match Report #32


Morning Lemmings and welcome back to LCCPQTMR, now skippered by a year older (although probably not a year wiser) Loudribs. Ok, so this week we’re in Maidstone and I had high hopes for this episode as it contained not one, but two panelists for whom I have a perverted political crush: Step forward Ken Clarke and Nigel Farage. Anyhoo, did this episode deliver the goods or leave me wanting? Did Farage finally just flip out and start goosestepping through the audience or did serenity reign? More importantly, am I going to get this finished before the new series of Peep Show begins? Let us stop with this time-wasting and find out.

 

The Menu

 

Q1: In the light of the Greek and Irish bailouts, is the Euro doomed?

 

Q2: Do today’s comments by Howard Flight really show us what the Tories think of the citizens of this country?

 

Q3:Does this week’s immigration cap match the Prime Minister’s rhetoric?

 

Q4: In view of the current climate of austerity, is it ludicrous to spend £2 million on a happiness survey?

 

Q5: Is it OK for the PM to take part in a joke that calls the Speaker a dwarf?

 

 

In The Blue Bit Of The Blue/Yellow Corner: Kenneth Clarke, Secretary of State for Justice, Lord Chancellor and all round good times guy.

It struck me today that Ken is like one of those kids at secondary school who should, by rights, be bullied absolutely mercilessly but for some reason isn’t. Let’s take a second to ponder the evidence. First off, it’s always been abundantly clear that Ken doesn’t go with crowd. Whilst all the other kids are listening to N-Dubz or whatever ‘Urban’ sounds constitute ‘cool’ for the teenage demographic these days (or in the case of the Conservative party, pathological Euro scepticism), Ken isn’t. So surely he’s part of a catch-all subculture that provides a veneer of social acceptance for his fellow misfits and instead listens to My Chemical Romance and paints his nails black (or in the case of the Tory party, hangs out with Phillip Blond and the rest of his bleeding heart Red Tories)? Well no, he doesn’t do that either. In fact, no one knows what Ken Clarke is into because the one time someone was brave enough to sneak a peek at his iPod, they were confronted a list of bands that no-one had ever heard of. Imagine a contemporary teenage Slint fan, that’s where Ken’s at. On top of this, he gets good grades but is never accused of being a swat, he smokes behind the bikeshed but no-one ever nicks his fags (mainly because they’re Gitanes or Sobraini Black Russians) and he always manages to avoid PE without ever being tarred as wimp. How the hell does he do this?

 

Part of this is inevitably down to his record: All the kids remember how he managed to sneak a ‘teenth into his bag for the Year 9 Residential (or in parliamentary terms, how he was one of the most successful Chancellors of modern times) and there’s also universal (if grudging) respect for the way he always gets served at the offy whilst even the kids with beards are turned away (or in his case the way in which he commands a certain level of respect from all parties in Parliament). But that’s not the whole story and to piece together the rest of the puzzle it’s worth taking a look at how he operates.

 

I’ve already highlighted a fair few Kenisms in past Post Match Reports, such as his trademark Damning With Faint Praise routine, but I noticed something else this time his round: His ability to milk a good lie. For more orthodox politicians, getting out of a politically sticky situation is usually an exercise in the deployment of either Mobility (the art of convincingly brushing a subject under the carpet before anyone notices) or Sincerity (no matter how faux that sincerity may be). Blair was very good at the Sincerity thing and manage to squeeze just about every ounce of utility out of his “Look…guys…” shtick for a good few years before everyone got wise to it. Brown, on the other hand, always knew he couldn’t do Sincerity (although he was quite adept at Gravity) and would try to go for Mobility instead. Unfortunately, he also sucked at the Mobility thing and we all know how that ended up whilst Cameron seems very good at both of these aspects and if I’m honest, that rather worries me. What makes Ken special he is that he spurns both of these methods and instead concentrates on turning his own lies to his advantage. Take Q1. Here, he was ambushed by Dimbers on his long and extensive history of Euro Lust and asked whether he still wants in on the whole Eurozone deal to which Ken replied “I have no idea”. Clearly, this is a lie. A big, fat, stinking whopper of a lie, yet it was delivered in that ‘nudge-nudge, wink-wink, read between the lines’ sort of way that left you in absolutely no doubt what his true opinion was but never being explicit enough to land him in trouble with his own team. Now, that’s harder to do in practice than it seems (just look at Ed Balls and his distinguished track record of Rubbish Lying) and goes a long way to explaining how Ken has managed to keep this unimpeachable air of independence about him despite being a high-ranking front bencher. Plausible deniability: It’s the name of Ken’s game.

 

Aside from that, other notable turns by Ken this week include his zinger of a line on Q2 (“people breed for other reasons”), a chosty little scrap with Gloria de Piero and even a brief outburst where he ‘shhhed’ Dimbers. He even got to cram a nice bit of vintage Damning With Faint Praise on Q5 (John Bercow is “very good… Can be a little School Masterly”) so in general, it was your usual Ken. However, the thing that got me was just how far removed from government he seemed. Seriously, I needed reminding that he is actually Secretary of State for Justice and the by-product of this ability to distance himself from his role is that he managed to avoid taking any serious flak from the crowd. Ok, so it wasn’t an incendiary performance by any measure, but in terms of showing off a political larder that’s stocked with the most exotic of goods it was all good stuff. MOAR PLZ KEN.

 

A crafty 7/10

 

In The Yellow Bit of the Blue/Yellow Corner: The Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon, ex-Lib Dem Leader and one time de facto ruler of large swathes of the Balkans.

Paddy Ashdown has no eyes. I have suspected this since being a small child but there has been no means of verifying this assertion as the place where his eyes should be lie so deeply recessed within his skull that you would need one of those probes they send to Venus to actually find out for sure. At least that is what I thought until I came across a piece of shocking photographic evidence that I have displayed below (see Fig. 1).

 

Fig. 1

 

You see? No eyes! Just a pair of obsidian sink holes that appear to exert their own gravity and are probably composed of anti-matter. Shocking, I know but you can’t argue with the facts.

 

Anyhoo, Paddy’s in town and he, much like Ken, also has this air of separation from the mainstream world but in a different way. Whilst Ken seems very comfortable in his oddness and carries it well, you get the sense that with Paddy, separateness is something that was inflicted on him rather than something he chose to wear. I say this because he always seems very detached from the rest of his peers, but in a way that’s hard to pin down. Part of it may be that he’s lived quite an extraordinary (and probably at times horrific) life, what with being ex-SBS and effectively ruling Kosovo for a period but there’s something else there that just makes me think that he walks in a different world to you or I. For example, his performance tonight was a pretty by-the-book affair where most of the stuff he said was reasonable enough (although he did get pulled up by the crowd for claiming that it was the Lib Dems who were stopping the Tories from being Uber Tories in Q3), but never was he able to really carry the audience with him and I was left with the impression of a little boy who was trying desperately to impress his parents whilst simultaneously striving to appear like he wasn’t trying to impress anyone. I know that sounds all very Freudian and hyperbolic, especially as there were moments (like when he seemed to have a genuinely good laugh at Cameron’s dwarf joke) where he seemed authentically human but I still think there’s something about him that makes him look a little, well, haunted. Mind you, he did have to go up against Thatcher at the Dispatch Box for a couple of years and if that doesn’t send you a little plumb loco, god knows what would.

 

An emotionally orphaned 5/10

 

In The Red Corner: Gloria de Piero, Shadow Minister for Culture and Media and former GMTV hackette.

Move over Ol’ Snaggletooth, there’s a new contender for Shadow Minister for Sauciness in town! Yes, that’s right, de Peiro has upped the Fruity Pictures Stakes to the point where you could probable get into quite a bit of trouble for running a Google Images search on her at work and I fear that Flint may have quite the fight on her hands. However, before I get too stuck into a raging torrent of misogyny there’s another issue at stake when it comes to de Piero and that’s what would have happened if she had entered parliament in 1997? I asked this because she seems to the manifestation of what pure New Labourism would have ultimately developed into if it had not been so rudely interrupted by a crushing electoral defeat. I don’t mean this in the sense of her beliefs (in fact I can’t really tell you about her beliefs as this is the first time she’s crossed my radar), but in terms of pedigree and posture, she appears to be pure NuLab. For a start, she’s from a media background and not just any media background but from the weird half touchy-feely, half uncompromisingly authoritarian netherworld that is GMTV but she also seems to travel very light when it comes to such trivial matters as beliefs. Seriously, in terms of her answers to last night’s questions, it’s very hard to get a sense of what bricks her political house is made of and all of her responses relied very heavily on the potency of her delivery (and it was potent at times) rather than their content. Take Q2 for example: Here, she started off with a slightly hot under the collar telling off about what a nasty man Flight is that eventually resulted in applause after a brief and slightly bewildered silence, but then spent the rest of the question biting off any head that dared to question this and generally looking for any reason to have a go. Similarly, Q4 was just a lunge at the obvious (politicians should “talk to people”) and never was there any danger that the wider issue (which was ‘should we care about happiness?’) should creep into the frame.

 

This is why I can only see her through New Labour lenses: Pretty much her whole performance was based around the use of single, sweeping and simplistic statements and then a fall back position of combative reactiveness in much the same way that the governments of both Brown and Blair were based on a larger version of this principle. That’s not to say that her delivery wasn’t good (it was) and I have a feeling that I may be being a little unfair here as a) it’s her very first time on and I don’t really know that much about her, b) I missed her response to Q5 as I was too busy scribbling down the name of a dwarf activist group that Dimbers mentioned (Walking with Giants. Catchy name!) and c) she was up against some very seasoned veterans, but the original question still stands: What would have happened if she was in Parliament in 1997? She’d be Leader of the Labour Party by now, Jeremy Kyle would be Home Secretary and Question Time would be hosted by Fern Britton, that’s what.

 

A well delivered but paper thin 4/10

 

In The Red, White And Blue Corner: Nigel Farage, MEP, Leader of UKIP (again) and all-round comedy demagogue.

Here he is, Inexplicable Political Crush #2, Nigel Farage! Yes, that’s right, my favourite Amateur Cad/Cheater of Firey Plane Death is on again and boy did I have high hopes for him tonight given that not only is Europe in a whole heap of trouble but also because one of his colleagues had just this week thought it prudent to shower a German MEP with a mouthful of Nazi slogans. Thus thought I, the scene would be set for a perfect example of the Farage Trajectory and I could have a good laugh as he lurched from The Giddy Highs of Victory to the Crushing Lows of Defeat. However, I was to be disappointed and while we did get to see him being fairly mental about Europe (although only mental by normal standards, not by Farage standards), no-one mentioned the whole ‘ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuehrer’ incident and as a result, there was no real opportunity for the whole Crushing Lows of Defeat scenario. All of which is a double shame as I spent ages on Wednesday night messing about with stuff I don’t know how to operate in order to make an animated picture that perfectly encapsulates the Farage Trajectory in all it’s glory (see Fig. 2).

 

Das Trajectory

Fig. 2

 

 

So yeah, I’m a bit miffed, particularly as I have to credit Farage with quite a lot of applause and not very many boos last night. Still, at least I can take comfort in the fact that he will inevitably be back on in less clement circumstances sooner or later (providing that UKIP hasn’t imploded under the weight of its own absurdity) and when he is, that animated picture will have at least three frames in it. Three frames, Nigel, THREE FRAMES. You have been warned.

 

A not nearly mental enough 5/10

 

 

In the Independent/Brainy One Corner: Kate Mosse, author and QT n00b.

Ok, so here we have a very interesting approach to being a Question Time panelist. I’m guessing that by and large, when people know that they’re going on QT they probably try and bone up a bit on stuff that’s going on and how they feel about that stuff because if you don’t, you’ll probably end up looking like a bit of a tit. Kate Mosse however has chosen a slightly different approach and I must say, not a fully functional one at that. Take Q1. As soon as it came to her turn, rather than make any attempt to answer it herself, she violated The Protocols of Dimbers by simply asking the guy who asked the question what he thought the answer was and then lifted that as her own. Genius! No wait, actually it wasn’t genius and no one bought it. At this point, I’d probably try and rethink my tactics and to her credit, she did. However, her new tactics weren’t so great either and Mosse’s response to Q2 was “I agree with everyone here”. Ok, I’m being cruel now as she did eventually cobble that into a semblance of a platitude, but still, it was fairly shonky. Q3 was also quite confusing when she recited a big list of things that could be good or bad about immigrants and then gestured to the audience to carry on going (which they didn’t) and at this point I thought the game was pretty much up for her. However, what I hadn’t counted on was her response to Q4 and that totally blindsided me for it seemed that she had been boning up, just on one, very specific subject. As soon as that happiness question landed, she was all over it and even went to lengths of throwing in references to the relevant literature as she went before finally petering out and calling for libraries not to be shut. Stunned, the audience clapped in an effort to comfort themselves in the face of information overload.

 

So yes, a very odd appearance that encompassed some very peculiar tactics with wildly varied results. It wasn’t terrible but if there’s one tiny bit of advice that I might impart it would be ‘spread your boning up butter on your Question Time toast a little more evenly next time’. That is all.

 

A slightly head scratching 4/10

 

The Crowd: Maidstone

My my, they’re a well turned out lot in Maidstone and with the exception of one old man who looked like he lived in a house made of coal, everyone looked rather dapper. Politically, it was an odd show as their didn’t really seem to be a representative of the government there (despite there being two coalition members on the panel, one of whom is on the front bench) and most of the argy-bargy tended to be Europe related (I think the Euro Sceptics made the most noise all-in-all). What particularly struck me about the Maidstone crowd was the names of the question askers, two of which had very confident monikers: Mark Power and Mark Everest. I so wish my last name was ‘Power’ or ‘Everest’. Loudribs Power. Dr Loudribs Power. Who the hell wouldn’t be impressed by that? No one, that’s who.

 

An odd but enjoyable 6/10

 

So there we go. A bunch of oddballs yacking in front of a very dapper crowd. Here’s a picture of Beefy.

 

...and lo, there was Beef.

 

Next week, Lemmings.

Loudribs Curmudgeonry Corner Post Question Time Match Report #23


Morning Lemmings and well done for having survived an entire week without me. The pain, I realise, must have been close to unbearable but you’re through to the other side now, basking in the warm glow of our shared love for Question Time. So kudos to you.

Anyhoo, I’m back and if I’m not mistaken, this appears to be the last episode in this series of Question Time. That’s right, the Series That Stubbornly Refused To End appears to have finally chuntered itself into a state of coma, leaving us all to twiddle our Thursday night thumbs for the next six weeks. So, with this in mind, let us gather round the hospital bed as the Good Doctor Dimbers makes ready to yank out the power cord from the life support whilst we mouth empty platitudes and extrapolate wildly on the contents of the will. This, dear Lemmings, is The End. At least until September, that is.

The Menu:

Q1: Was it right to revoke Nick Griffin’s invite to Buckingham Palace?

Q2: Is The Big Society Big Cover for Big Cuts?

Q3: 67% of the population want a burqa ban but Damian Green says it’s “un-British”. Who’s right?

Q4: Should Alex Salmond account for the release of alMaghari to Obama instead of David Cameron?

Q5: Is the Tomlinson case a cover-up?

In The Blue Bit Of The Blue/Yellow Corner: Damian Green, Minister of State for Borders and Immigration and one time Man In The Frame for a very fishy bit of policing.

I’m always at a bit of loss with Damian Green because although he’s been knocking about on the Tory frontbenches since 2001, the only thing that springs to mind when his name is mentioned is the rather sketchy looking incident when he was arrested (and then subsequently cleared) for misconduct in public office. To be sure, that was a grubby looking brouhaha that deservedly filled the front pages for a good long while, but it’s had the effect of defining his period in parliament and I really can’t recall a time when Damian Green has been on my radar for any other reason.

Part of this is down to the fact that it was a genuine scandal in which he appears to have been stitched up, but some of it is also to do with the fact that he simply isn’t that memorable. On the one hand, he’s certainly not incompetent and I can’t recall a time where I’ve thought ‘that there Damian Green, he’s a right numpty’, but on the other hand, he simply doesn’t seem to have that much of a presence and his MO very much seems to be ‘say things with an air of mild understatement, stick to the middle, don’t rock the boat too much and it will all be gravy’.  So yes, he’s political semi-skimmed: Serviceable in a workaday manner, but hardly the heady luxury of vein clogging silvertop.

His general reasonableness was very much on display in Q1 where he gave props to The Red Team for beating the BNP in Barking and generally sidestepped any potential booby traps by simply saying it was the Queen’s call. Q2, however, was less benign and he had to resort to the ‘it’s all Labour’s fault’ defence after Dimbers started looking dangerous with talk of unbuilt schools. Now, the Coalition have to be careful with this particular attack because it’s fast approaching it’s sell by date and will start to look pretty shabby if they carry on using it at its current frequency after September. Following this, the schools issue continued to be a thorn in his side, but he did have a brief flourish at the end when he declared that Labour would have probably done something pretty similar themselves (whilst simultaneously trying to look very, very upset and serious. D- for feigned indignation). That just about got him off the hook. Next up was Burqagate in Q3 and the mood in the room suddenly soured. Sensing some easy points, Farage lost no time in huffing and puffing about the madness of it all and he was soon scrapping with Green about what happens when burqa wearers go to banks. The audience then bundled in with supplementary ‘we have to show our faces in Tesco/BBC studio’s/etc, etc’ but credit where credit’s due, Green stood his ground and then went on the offensive by asking everyone to imagine just how stupid it would look if the police actually started arresting burqa wearers. That was a nice little switcheroo. Unfortunately, that was pretty much it from him as Q’s 5-6 mainly consisted of empty waffle and hedged bets that didn’t really go anywhere. Still, it could have been a lot worse and all-in-all, it wasn’t a bad effort, even if it wasn’t exactly gripping stuff. Still can’t say that he left much of an impression though.

A low fat 6/10

In The Red Corner: Sadiq Khan, Shadow Secretary of State for Transport and pay rise turner-downer.

Now here’s an interesting specimen. Oft-mooted as a potentially British Obama, Khan sports a set of pretty much spotless credentials, marred only by some minor expenses shenanigans. After being raised in a council estate, he’s gone from being a human rights lawyer to a Labour councillor before finally making it to the Commons in 2003 and then on to the Cabinet in 2010. So far, so admirable. However, there is one vital ingredient  missing in this otherwise beneficent mix and that, I’m afraid to say, is charisma. It’s not that he’s a bad communicator or that he has a habit of sticking his foot in it. It’s just that it takes him so long to get going, like an engine that’s lubricated with Marmite. He also has hair like Guile from Street Fighter 2. That’s cool though.

So yes, he’s not noted for his acceleration, but he did get off to a reasonably good start on Q1 by looking stern and telling everyone that it ‘served Nick Griffin right’ to get his invite to the Palace withdrawn. Boxes ticked and applause received, he then went on to Q2, a question that had a lot of potential for a Labour panellist. It started promisingly enough when he accused the Tories of being “vacuous branding men” who weren’t fooling anyone, but he didn’t drive home the attack and the initiative passed him by. Later on, he came back for another swipe, this time aimed at the middle-classes for receiving too much Tory money (which is a very dangerous game) and soon found himself handing over some easy points to Green. Hmmmm… Not the wisest strategy. Q3 resulted in much scrapping between himself, Farage and the audience and although he did make a good stab at taking the high ground, it wasn’t entirely effective and Farage managed to reap some fairly handsome applause when he played the old ‘you guys had 13 years to do something about this’ card. Ouch. Finally, along limped Q’s 4 and 5, but everyone had pretty much given up caring at this point and not much was made of it.

The above is a good illustration of why Khan has never managed to convert his ‘British Obama’ props in to the cold, hard, political power that such a title demands: You just don’t get the sense that he has the killer instinct. Yes, he’s clearly a clever guy who’s achieved a great deal in his life and yes, he has an admirable record in all of his dealings with the exception of his (admittedly minor) expenses claim. However, when it comes to the crunch, his manner just doesn’t carry that much weight and I found myself to be left wanting by his performance. I hope that this changes over time because I do think he has a lot to offer, but until then, he really needs to start pumping some oratory iron.

A somewhat clumsy but somewhat acceptable 5/10

In The Red White And Blue Corner: Nigel Farage, UKIP leader and shamelessly death defying self publicist.

Look who’s back! It’s Britain’s favourite value-for-money demagogue and amateur cad, Nigel Farage! That’s right, for as we are all aware, just prior to the election, Nigel Farage literally crashed and not so literally burned as an oh so UKIP publicity stunt went oh so predictably wrong. Yet from this wreckage emerged a man who will not let anything as trivial as death stand in the way of his tireless defence of our green and pleasant land. Gawd bless yer Nigel, the yeomanry of Great Britain are forever indebted to you. Speaking of which, I have noticed that a photo of the incident, featuring a dazed, battered and dishevelled looking Farage has since disappeared from Google Images, which is a shame as it represented the perfect juxtaposition of both comedy and tragedy. Luckily, I managed to save a copy myself, now proudly displayed below in a somewhat enhanced form below (see Fig. 1).

Yowzers!

Fig. 1

Anyway, it was pretty much stock Farage tonight and he stuck to his tradition of starting out on a semi-reasonable footing before picking a fight with everyone and then consequently drowning in a sea of animosity he himself created. I call it The Farage Trajectory. Here’s how it worked last night: Q1 had him sounding, dare I say it, very sensible as he took the now familiar ‘hate the BNP, but they are elected’ line which was received with some very sensible sounding applause before then embarking on a bit of a non-answer to Q3 that was saved at the last minute by some ‘isn’t the voluntary sector great’ cheapery. However, it was Q3 where the more confrontational Nigel (who I’ve perversely come to actually quite like in a completely counter intuitive way) emerged and scraps were had with all. Some nonsense was spouted, some wide eyed monkeyshine invoked and a telling off from Dimbers received but oddly (and worryingly) the crowd seemed to be mostly behind him. The Farage Trajectory then asserted itself with renewed vigour as he made a fairly long winded stab at Americans in general, only to find that there was an American woman in the audience who happened to take offence. Doh! Bad luck there Nigel! Finally, he managed to buck his eponymous trajectory on Q5 as he got a brief squirt of applause for saying that the Tomlinson case “stinks”. Damn. I hate it when a trajectory doesn’t come together.

So that was that and as usual, I really quite enjoyed it. Yes, he’s crazy as a shit house rat and yes, he’s full of tawdry, two-bit plays, but come on, he really does bring something to show. Never change Nigel. Never change.

An awe inspiringly tacky 8/10

In The Independent/Brainy Corner: Ruth Lea, hard headed economist type and purveyor of all round wtf?!-ness.

Ok, ok, so I’ve done the ‘doesn’t Ruth Lea look just like that weird little boy from the Antiques Roadshow who ended up being a woman’ gag before (see title image), but c’mon, gags like that come but once a lifetime. In fact, so taken am I by this rather cheap trick that from here on in, Ruth Lea will always be represented by a picture of the aforementioned Weird Little Boy From The Antiques Roadshow Who Ended Up Being A Woman. My blog, my rules, ok?

Anyhoo, Ruth Lea’s back she’s usually pretty predictable. It works like this: If it’s anything to do with the public sector, it’s bad. If Gordon Brown’s been within 500 miles of it, it’s bad. If there’s the slightest whiff of anyone trying to pour cold water on the throbbing sinews of dog-eat-dog capitalism, it’s not just bad, it’s an affront to humanity and the perpetrator fully deserves to have their eyes poked out with a statuette of Milton Friedman. That’s how Ruth Lea works and providing there’s someone around at the other end of the spectrum to put up a bit of a fight, it can be quite fun watching her get all fundamental and crazy about all things economic.

When I saw the line up tonight, I was delighted. I wasn’t too bothered by either the Red or Blue team, but the thought of Ruth Lea going toe-to-toe with her polar opposite, Bob Crow, filled me with giddy optimism. This had to result in an epic and bad tempered shitstorm, right? Wrong. In actual fact, what we got was a quite sedate Ruth Lea who failed to build up to her usually ginormous levels of moon howling lunacy. Q1? Perfectly reasonable. Q2? Low levels of bureaucracy and Gordon Brown bashing, but nothing like the torrent of fervent zeal we’re accustomed to. Q3 A picture of even handed tolerance (and she told Nigel Farage to “put a sock in it”) Q4? Neither here nor there. And Q5? Not even worth mentioning.

Well, that wasn’t very fun, was it and if I’m being totally honest, I feel a little cheated. So come on Ruth. You’ve got a role to fill and that’s the role of Never Say Die, snake eating, free market extremist. Next time, I expect to hear at least one reference to how the Invisible Hand is going to bitchslap me silly for paying my taxes or a call for Parliament to be sold to Primark. Now be off with you!

A disappointingly sane 4/10

In The ‘I’m The Funny One’/Just Like You Corner: Bob Crow, General Secretary of the RMT and Salt Of The Erf.

I have a theory about Bob Crow. I contend that there are in fact two Bob Crow’s and that they alternate their media appearances on a random basis. Sometimes, it is the principled, down to earth, Defender of The People Bob Crow who sallies into the studio, ready to fight the little guy’s corner and stand up for a fairer society. On other occasions it is YOU’RE GOIN’ ‘OME IN A FACKING AMBULANCE, Scargillite bull-in-a-china shop Bob Crow who bludgeons his way through the door, ready to pick a fight with anyone who grew up in a house that had an indoor toilet (as aptly represented in Fig. 2 and in this episode of Have I Got News For You).

SHADWELL ARMY!

Fig. 2

Tonight, we got the former and I must say, I was quite impressed. On pretty much every question, he made his point in a robust way that managed to stay on the right side of anger and even when he was harried by a bloke in the audience who clearly was a bit of a tit, he managed to keep the aggression that can so often be his undoing in check. Ok, so his performance was littered with an inordinate number of slightly bizarre World War II references (his granddad in the 8th Army, the uncle shot in Rangoon, Q2’s “Dad’s Army” barb , government spending in 1945, etc) and his bankers/Dick Turpin joke fell a bit flat, but the audience were behind him in impressive numbers and he came across like a man with genuine convictions who was in it for the right reasons. I will admit to being slightly pissed off that the other Bob Crow didn’t turn up, if only to have a fight with Ruth Lea, but I can’t deny that there was a lot to like about this outing.

A sturdy 7/10

The Crowd: Hartlepool

Ok, so I don’t quite know what to make of this lot. On the one hand, they were a pretty noisy, knockabout crowd with some good stand out solo’s (American Farage Mauler, I’m looking at you), whilst on the other, the reaction to the burqa question scared me a little and I sort of got the feeling that quite a few of them were there simply to have a go at someone (which is the point of Question Time, but you know what I mean, right?). This wasn’t really helped by having Red and Blue panellist who were competent enough to not really bugger anything up, but not seasoned/skilful enough to build a head of steam and smite their foes. Add in to that the fact that Ruth Lea’s medication has obviously kicked in while Bob Crow has experienced some instant mellowing and the show as a whole ends up looking a little frustrating. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a bad episode and there was some interesting stuff there, but in general I just found it a little incoherent and slapdash. Thank god for Farage, eh?

Oh Christ… I really did just say that, didn’t I…

A confusing 5/10

So that’s it! This series over! While this is the first series that I’ve actually written about, it totally does stick in my mind as one of the more eventful and dramatic ones, particularly during the March-June arc. Since then we’ve been through a period of politics that really has completely turned everything on its head and we emerge at the other end in a very uncertain, but utterly fascinating landscape that continues to shift and contort. I have no idea where things are going at the moment. I have suspicions and inklings, but nothing that I’d take to the bank. All I do know is that it’s watching the flux of events through the window of Question Time is a whole bunch of fun and that I’ll be back for more in September.

If you’ve been following this blog, many, many thanks. It’s sometimes a pain in the arse to write and produce as I work full time and you’d be surprised just how much long it takes to make, but it’s all worth it when people say nice things to me about it. I’m not entirely sure what’s going to happen to it by the next series. It’ll be back in one form or another, but it just might be on a different platform. Anyhow, check back in from time-to-time, because you never know, I might get round to finally updating the scoreboard-that-is-of-my-own-devising-yet-I-still-don’t-understand. Emphasis on the word ‘might’. MIGHT

And finally some special thanks go out my Mum for the proof reading and gentle ticking offs whenever the spelling/typos/swearing got too appalling (I was born in 1979. I am living proof of 18 years of Tory education policy), the good people at reddit’s /r/unitedkingdom and /r/ukpolitics (your upboats and comments gave me a major morale boost at exactly the point when I needed it most) Jalf for techy brain picking/holiday Friday escapism, Benry for Spreadhead, Rick for the banter and most of all to my partner Hannah for putting up with what could quite often be quite the curmudgeonly Loudribs. xx

See y’all in September.

Loudribs Curmudgeonry Corner Post Question Time Match Report #12


Ol' Big Neck and Wonky Eyes

Morning Lemmings. Ok, so I guess I’d better pay lip-service to the Leaders Debate as it provided the backdrop to last night’s Question Time and the world seems to have got its knickers in a twist about it (except, strangely, the Mail and Express, who are going with volcanogeddon on their front pages today… Your boy not do too well then?). I’m not going to get too deeply embroiled in it all as we’ll be here all day, but here’s a few choice titbits for you:

1: The format is super weird, like an episode of Blind Date where the audience couldn’t be bothered to turn up, Cilla’s been at the catnip and the girl who does the picking is in a comma. I know that everyone’s bleating about what a revelation it all was but I have to confess that I found it half stultifyingly dull, half mindbendingly bizarre (at one point I began daydreaming about how cool it would be if Cameron’s head just exploded, showering Clegg and Brown with blood and propelling fragments of skull into Stewart’s face. See what it’s done to me?) Debate without a feedback mechanism is an odd puppy indeed.

2: Alistair Stewart is a tool and a very staccato one at that. I know it was hard brief, given the Byzantine rules involved, but constantly barking “MR BROWN! MR BROWN!” does not a Dimbleby make.

3: Clegg did do well. I’ve been very scathing about him of late, mainly because he comes across as the political equivalent of skimmed milk: Sensible but life drainingly limp. However, he did manage to look like someone with two, possibly three dimensions last night and clearly stood apart from Brown and Cameron as a person who may have some non-crap tricks up his sleeve. So well done Cleggers, your stock’s just risen in my book.

4. Brown wasn’t that bad. Yes, ‘the big list’ is a very worn and dull tactic and desperately shoehorning shonky jokes into places where you shouldn’t isn’t exactly edifying, but he did win some points on the ‘steady pair of hands’ scale. If I was him, I’d knock these efforts to humanise himself on the head because it isn’t fooling anyone. We know he’s a creature who dwells in a netherworld of abstract numbers and ethereal statistics, but that’s actually part of his appeal (in an odd sort of way). Stick with what you know, Gordy. Oh, and watching him try to bum Clegg was pretty entertaining.

5. The biggest revelation for me was just how bad Cameron was. I was fully expecting him to walk this, but it was not to be. The main problem is that his ‘reduce hugely complex and nuanced issues into a happy little tale of how cocking normal I am’ tactic that works so well on soundbites and news bulletins simply can’t sustain 90 minutes of scrutiny. Seriously, if he had tried to boil the global economic crisis down to some anecdote about how he was hanging out in a Spar shop, buying something excruciatingly normal amongst excruciatingly normal people one more time, I swear to god I would have forced lit cigarettes down my ears, hot end first. The flakiness of the Tories latest wheeze (power to plebs, yo?) also began to look suspiciously flimsy after a few minutes and I can’t help but think that they are really going to have to up their game to stop the other debates going sideways.

6. The set looks like is was borrowed from a daytime telly gameshow, possibly involving William G. Stewart.

7. When the candidates weren’t talking they looked like they were messing about with colouring-in books.

8. 90 minutes is a bloody long time.

So that’s that: A rather disorientating experience that left me salivating for the fillet steak of Dimbleby after the gruel of Stewart. Waiter!

The Menu: This is a bit of format tweak, largely to curb my tendency to waffle about the finer points of the various questions. So, from now on, the questions go up first, I get to have a bath and read the New Statesman a bit earlier while you don’t have to trawl through quite as much blabber. Everyone’s a winner, kapeesh? So, what’s on tonight’s menu?

Q1: Who won tonight’s debate?

    Q2: The debate is being described as “historic” but will it make a difference?

    Q3: Does the Tories ‘people power’ wheeze represent an abdication of the state in providing services?

    Q4: Does Gordon Brown’s omission that he should have supervised the banks more closely mean he’s not fit to lead?

Q5: Is a hung parliament the political equivalent of volcanic ash (topical!)?

In The Red Corner: Ed Miliband, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change and somewhat boss eyed (see above) brother of David.
Another week, another Miliband, although this time we get the slightly more human of the pair. I’ve got quite a lot of time for Ed as he does seem to genuinely think about what he says and has an air of conviction that doesn’t spill over into sounding desperate. His career path hasn’t been quite as meteoric as his brother’s, mainly because he’s always been on the Brown side of the Labour fence, but to be honest, that seems to work in his favour as I’m natural suspicious of high achievers and their ilk. He also has much softer edges than David, mainly because he trades less in pure politics (which the younger Miliband excels at…. excels at far too much in fact) and more in ideas. That gives him a little more depth and a little less jaggedness. It was an easier show than it could have been for him tonight, considering Brown managed not to completely faceplant himself into the pavement while Cameron didn’t manage to live up to his own hype. Q1 was a pretty chushty affair that simply involved giving the obligatory props to ‘how great for democracy’ the whole shebang was, a few nods in Brown’s direction and a nice little crack at the Tories for Cameron’s China faux pas. Nothing of revelationary significance, but steady enough. Minor applause was the order of the day for Q2 as he needled the Tories again for Cameron’s weak effort and declared Gordon Brown to be a “man of substance”, but he overplayed this hand when he went back for a second bite and no-one would play with him. Q3 provided a rich seam to mine as it was pretty clear that the crowd weren’t on board with the whole ‘Big Society’ flakery and they dished out some love when he managed to big up the state without badmouthing the voluntary sector and generally harried Gove on some education do-dahs. Things could have got pretty difficult on Q4, but it seemed that the audience had made up their mind that this was going to be a fairly anti-Tory night and despite wheeling the standard issue ‘global recession line’ (this time working in references to “houses in Mississippi”… go on Ed! Paint a picture!) things did get sticky when an audience bought up that weird story about some department that had a “contemplation suite”. Miliband did the honourable thing in the face of this and dropped Ed Balls right in it (if in doubt, blame Balls) while the final question had him making some ‘we love constitutional reform now that the LibDems look like they might have a fighting chance’ gestures that didn’t look entirely heartfelt. So, all-in-all it was a pretty good turn and at the end of play he looked entirely unscathed. Some of this is down to circumstance. I’m guessing that the Leader’s Debate went way better than most Labour bigwigs hoped and the inevitable hammering he expected to take never materialised. Instead, all he had to do was not get over-cocky and just go with the audience, which he did and it worked. The other part of this is down to Miliband himself and the fact that he’s good at getting the pitch right. While his brother plays a very impressive offensive game, the political equivalent of Shock and Awe, Ed seems much more well rounded and flexible. He’s good in defence without appearing conceited and has the umph to take the fight to the other side as well, all of which goes in his favour. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m saying that this was some earth shattering display of statesman like qualities, but it was quite a nice, measured bit of play that sounded mostly convincing.

An above par 6/10

In Blue Corner, Michael Gove, long neck having (see above) Shadow Secretary for Children, Schools and Families and man made entirely of Play Dough
I have a hard time pegging Gove down. On the one hand he’s clearly bright, tougher than he looks (and he does look like his face was made by a three year old potter who’s been at the E-numbers…See Fig. 1) and tends to do quite well on the likes of Newsnight.

Zoinks!

Fig. 1

Like Ed Miliband, he’s more on the ‘ideas’ end of politics and he seems to be a lot better at nuance than most Tories are. Having said that, I have reservations about the ideas he comes up with (being mainly of the vague and woolly variety, dressed up to sound much more solid than they actually are), his body language points to a squirrel based ancestory and his ‘angry’ face is really irritating. It was a tough deal for him on this episode, considering he had only half an hour’s thinking time after watching his leader do a less than great job and the lack of feedback from the Leader’s Debate audience probably had him making wild guesses about how it went down with the public. The lack of response he got to Q1 (‘of course I love Dave but politicians “shouldn’t pass judgement” on this’…wtf?) was pretty much the shape of things to come while Q2’s little pop at LibDem immigration policy also failed to find it’s target. However, it was Q3 where things started getting messy and when he tried to explain why the whole ‘Big Society’ thing was so great (and he has his fingerprints all over this policy), he was treated to a full blown tumbleweed moment. Sensing that things were looking ominous, he rashly declared that he “loves” Shami Chakrabarti, only to have the subject of his affection turn around and call him a liar. Bad move. Q4 was a safer affair and a recitation of the standard Gordon Brown charge sheet and a sly little swipe at Law’s for being a banker back in the day seemed to do the trick. Moderate applause was his reward, along with a slight respite from the growing anti-Tory sentiment. Finally, he conjured up some thinly veiled warnings about a hung parliament for Q6 and then shuffled off, bloodied but not entirely unbowed.

Truth be told, he didn’t do so badly as the crowd were most certainly not in the market for the regular Tory line and as I said earlier, events conspired against him. If that had been May, Osborne or Lansley, I could see it degenerating into rout, but he did pretty well to keep a semblance of a defence up and although he comes across as quite odd, he isn’t totally unlikable. So bad luck Michael, that was a choppy crossing but you can take comfort in the fact that you didn’t throw up all over yourself.

A spirited, if not entirely successful 5/10

In The Yellow Corner, David Laws, Shadow Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families and slightly David Caruso-esque ex-banker.
I haven’t been impressed by laws to date, mainly because there’s something a little jobsworthy about him (“pleeeeease let us have power”) and he can be a little over assertive, but he was in a great position tonight, given Clegg’s out-of-fucking-nowhere turn. Naturally Q1 was a love-in with Nick and a fall-out with Dave, all of which went down with predictable well while he continued to keep the pressure on Cameron in Q2. Q3 saw him do really well as he managed to knock Labour for the nanny state whilst also bashing ‘Big Society’ as being deeply divisive, something that clearly resonated with the audience and made him a whole stack of hay. I have to confess that I missed him on Q4, having to both go to the toilet and find a bottle opener, so no searing insights from me there while Q5 saw him quietly fade out, chuntering about this, that or the other . On the face of it, he seems to have won the political argument but I can’t really put that down to any particular personal trait. Ok, so he seems competent enough and there was nothing I didn’t particularly dislike about his performance, but I still can’t quite get behind him yet. Maybe that will come with more exposure and there’s every possibility that I’m just being a mardy old hack, but for now I am going to suspend opinion on him. Laws: Make me like you.

A technically victorious but not-quite-there-yet 6/10

In The Independent/Brainy One Corner: Nigel Farage, ex-leader of UKIP, ventriloquists dummy (see Fig. 2) and wearer of naff suits.

gogtle of ginglish gere?

Fig. 2

I’m going to say something rash now: Politics is a better place with Farage in it. Now hold on there, don’t phone the duty mental health team and arrange a sectioning just yet because this doesn’t mean that I agree with him about…well…pretty much anything, it’s just that he’s a genuine character . A demented, small minded demagogue of a character, yes, but a character nevertheless and characters add much needed spice to what can otherwise be a dull and overly dry subject. He also looks like a cad who’s just a little bit too dorky to be a proper cad and I imagine him being stuck at Cad HQ, doing the accounts while all the real cads are out shagging emotionally vulnerable countesses and swindling impressionable young nobles out of their fortune. That thought cheers me for some reason. Sadly, I was kind of disappointed with tonight’s effort as there was nothing he could get really off his tits about and he kept having to invent reasons to be crazy, usually by making totally unrelated topics somehow link to the EU. Calling the LibDems “the modern day CND” and a brief seizure about Gordy selling the gold looked like they could have developed into some awesomely batty tirades, but alas, it was not to be. Instead, what we mainly got was ‘blah blah referendum, blah blah throwing the doors open, blah blah”. Now I know that UKIP’s main (and only) selling point is the whole Eurobashing thing, but come on, you have to bolster that up with obnoxious opinions about other things as well if you want my continued tolerance of your outlandish worldview. So step up your game, Farage. Next time your own, I want to at least see some hair on the palms of your hands.

A disappointingly flat 3/10

In The I’m The Funny One/Just Like You Corner: John Sergeant, reassuringly un-handsom ex-journo and buggerer-up of Strictly Come Dancing.

Ahh, John Sergeant… while nature may have given you a pretty ropey deal in the looks department, it more than made up for it by blessing you with the most soothing voice in Britain. Seriously, it’s like swimming in a pool of Ovaltine and if ever anyone has to break some bad news to me, I’d like it if they could contact Sergeant first and get him to do it instead. He’s also one of the most reasonable sounding people on telly, taking his time to softly impart little nuggets of considered wisdom that seem to waft out of his mouth in a fine, sweet smelling mist. Tonight saw him being incredibly sympathetic towards Brown, swimming against the tide a little but getting away with it because it’s just impossible to be angry with someone who looks that much like a comedy cartoon sidekick. Worthy of note was his rather wonderful lambasting about the ‘Big Society’ issue, but unfortunately this got taken the wrong way by an overly eager audience member who thought he was being nasty about the voluntary sector and he had to crank his voice from ‘soothing’ to ‘ultra-soothing’ in order to extricate himself. Mostly though, it was good, thoughtful stuff and while I didn’t agree with it all (I, for instance, really want a hung parliament), it was said in such a way that it came across as it should: an opinion, not an existential threat to my beliefs system. Given that the prevailing wind in politics seems to be a very reductionist, with-us-or-against-us hurricane, it’s really refreshing to listen to someone who actually bothers to look at things in depth. So well done John, now come over to mine and gently lull me to sleep with some Beatrix Potter and Winnie the Pooh. And some warm milk. And tuck me in. That’s enough now. You can go.

A wonderfully contented 7/10

In The There Goes The Format Corner: Shami Chakrabarti, OO gauge defender of Liberties and formidable Question Time performer.

If there’s one person who you can safely bet on to wipe the floor with everyone on Question Time, it’s Shami Chakrabarti. In some ways it’s a little unfair because pretty much no one would disagree that having their door kicked down by the police is something they’d rather avoid, but for the most part it’s down to the fact that she’s passionate, eloquent and doesn’t pander to anybody. She also (as my better half spotted some time ago) looks a lot like a school boy and I’ve often wondered how she’d look in traditional cap and blazer (not in a pervy way, you understand?). Well, thanks to the judicious use of commercially available photo manipulation software, that moment has now arrived. Behold, Middle School Chakrabarti (see Fig. 3)!

Fig. 3

Ok, so it was a little weird having to type ‘boy in traditional school uniform’ into Google Images, but I feel that the end justifies the means. As always tonight, she did a sterling job, going with Clegg on the Leadership Debates, pouring scorn on ‘Big Society’ and generally making sure that none of the politicians got a free ride. The crowd were on board with her as they always are, even as she performed a fairly risky manoeuvre in which she implicated every one of us as a culprit in the credit crunch. That’s an important point right there and one that doesn’t get aired enough, mainly because people are too afraid it won’t go down well. Thankfully, Shami has no such qualms and will routinely point the finger, no matter how much of a holy cow the culprit is. I won’t get too carried away in praising her to high heaven as she does have a blessed position on the show, beholden to no-one and peddling an idea that’s almost universally agreed upon as ‘a good thing’, but there’s still an awful lot to like. So that was pretty much her lot and as usual, it was a very good lot which leads me to conclude that should ever the facility to gamble on Question Time exist, always go with Chakrabarti. You’ll be rich in no time.

A fully great 8/10

The Crowd: London

I had the deepest sympathy for the audience tonight, enduring as they did the full 90 minutes of Leaders Debate but without access to booze, fags, internet and things to throw at the screen. The strain was evident during the opening question and it took them a while to shake off the torpor that seemed to envelop the studio. However, once they regained consciousness, they proved to be a great crowd and one that was very much into Nick Clegg. The other interesting thing was that they were probably one of the most anti-Cameron audience we’ve seen all series which is saying something given that we’ve already been to Scotland and the North East. That’s not to say it was all one way traffic, but if I was in the Tories right now, I’d be seriously looking for that thinking cap of mine. One final thing that struck me about them: this was one of the first shows in a long time when expenses and ‘all MP’s are crap’ didn’t form the backbone of the audience argument. I’ve been quite negative about the Leaders Debates tonight, but if Clegg has somehow managed to drag the argument out of the Swamp of Culpability and into the Savannah of Possibilities, then that is good thing. A very good thing. But yes, generally they were a good bunch and made for a lively show. Members of note this week include a women who made a sentence out of seemingly random words (“more slightly a bit like a puppet show”), a guy who’s shirt looked like a tube of Cresta toothpaste and a women who forgot what she was saying before she said it. I fucking love it when that happens.

A refreshing and zesty 8/10

So Chakrabarti and the crowd carry the day. Well done to them and a ‘not a bad show’ to everyone except Farage. Come on Nigel! Stop with the non-crazy!

See yers next week.


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 107 other followers

May 2022
M T W T F S S
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  

RSS Feed


%d bloggers like this: